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Design process behind the remote controller organiser

05 June 2017

The team at Willett Design Group approached Star Rapid to help them create The Remote Controller; an innovative organising solution to keep your remote controllers in one place. It’s a universal rubber attachment that fits on all shapes and sizes of remote controls.

A rough sketch is a great place to start for any invention. If you think the idea is a winner on paper, then the next step is to move from a drawing to a CAD file so it can be made into a physical prototype. The team at Willett Design Group had its 2D and 3D CAD files ready so the next step was to find a manufacturing partner.

The team at Willett Design Group reached out to Star Rapid to inquire about available services.

Make a prototype

When preparing to make a prototype there are a range of different processes you can use. Vacuum casting and 3D printing are great alternatives for plastic injection moulding and CNC machining when creating your prototype since they avoid costly tooling investment, therefore you can make small quantities for cheap.

The team at Willett Design Group chose to make its prototype using 3D printing since it’s fast and flexible. It’s also an excellent, low-cost way to test the three “F”s: Form, Fit and Function.

The team loved its 3D prototypes because they can hold the products and see if they’re the right size and shape. Another benefit of 3D printing is that design modifications are easy and cheap. Based on the prototype the client saw they needed some tweaking of the digital CAD file. Once the design was finalised it was time to prepare for low-volume production.

Choose the right process for manufacturing

Next, Willet Design had to choose the right manufacturing process. An elastomer rubber sleeve like this can be made with vacuum casting or compression moulding.

It chose compression moulding for low-volume manufacturing. It required a larger initial investment, but multiple cavities will let them produce many parts quickly and efficiently. This is a great way to provide an immediate revenue stream to recoup costs and grow a business organically.

Design for manufacturing

Star Rapid’s engineers provide customers with a design for manufacturing review before production. This is important to ensure the designs are optimised for the manufacturing. Star Rapid’s main feedback for the team at Willett Design Group included the following:

• Decrease the height of the embossed lettering, to allow the part to be removed from the mould tool without damage. Deeply recessed lettering in soft material will stick too much to the tool walls, even with a draft angle.

• Relocate the parting line of the mould so that it would form a natural design feature around the circumference of the shell while highlighting the product name.

Compression moulding for low-volume production

Compression moulding uses two clamshell-type, “open flash” moulds. Within the cavity of these two moulds, an insert is placed to form the final shape. The green colour on the tool is a protective oil that keeps the tool from rusting – allowing it to be stored for further production runs down the line.

A sheet of thermosetting silicone rubber was placed in the cavity of each mould tool. This sheet of raw material comes pre-mixed but is not yet fully cured. It will only cure under the heat and pressure of compression, about 300°C for three minutes.

The embossed lettering has been CNC machined into the cavity wall. Recessed letters here will become raised lettering on the finished part. It’s important that they not be too deep or they will stick in the mould.

During compression, the two halves of the mould, with the inserts between them, will be held together under several tons of pressure. Excess material or “flash” will be squeezed out of the cavity to form a very thin strip around the parting line. This flash can later easily be peeled off by hand.

The grooves outlining the part’s profile are troughs where the excess material will be pressed out to become flash.

Testing the first samples

Star Rapid always does a thorough QC inspection and test of the first set of sample parts to make sure everything came out right.

One of the first tests was to confirm the stretchiness of the rubber, since the remote controller needs to be flexible enough to fit every size and shape of device without breaking. Star Rapid performed pull and twisting tests and everything seemed fine.

But during testing the client decided to modify the design of the stalk. Star Rapid modified the tool and made a new set of samples within a few days of receiving the client’s revised drawings. A larger ball was added for better grip and holding power, which also adds a little flair!

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